Arson attack at block of flats

The scene of the fire. Pic by R Jasper-Griffith
The scene of the fire. Pic by R Jasper-Griffith

TERRIFIED residents had to be evacuated from a block of flats on Wednesday evening after arsonists struck.

Firefighters arrived at the scene in West Hill Road, St Leonards, at around 9.15pm and had to evacuate 16 people in total.

One suffered an asthma attack due to inhaling smoke.

Three of the affected residents were rescued by firefighters after the blaze started in the communal hallway.

Ian Rose, crew commander at Bohemia Road Fire Station, said: “The fire itself was not particularly big but it did generate a lot of thick black smoke.

“The building had a fire alarm system which went off so we were alerted to the fire.

“One resident had a bad asthma attack because of the smoke and had to be treated by paramedics.”

Police, who were also at the scene, said three people were taken to the Conquest Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation but have since been discharged.

Detective Constable Julian Stokes said: “We are treating this fire as arson as it is believed to have been started in a pushchair which was in the communal hallway.

“Thankfully no one was seriously injured.

“We are appealing to anyone who might have seen anything suspicious in the area at around 9pm to get in contact on 101 quoting serial 1595 of April 24.

Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”